Next week, we'll finally get into the top 10 in the organization before we start looking forward to the 2013 ranking season. Today, I'm continuing with numbers 11-15. If you missed any of the previous recaps, you can view them here:
For the first time since we started doing this series, I actually get to report some good things about Rays prospects. Hopefully.
15. Parker Markel, RHP - A 39th rounder out of Yavapai JC two years ago, Markel didn't garner much attention until last year's reports out of the New York Penn League indicated he was a player to keep an eye on. Despite the favorable scouting notes on his stuff, he only struck out 6.9 batters per nine innings. After a slow start to 2012 with Bowling Green, Markel caught fire in the second half and had a stretch where he threw nine consecutive starts without allowing more than two earned runs. In the end, he finished with a 3.52 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. While both numbers weren't as good as his 2011 stats with Hudson Valley, they were both better than Midwest League averages.
A positive statistical note is that his K/9 improved from 6.9 to 7.2, and his BB/9 dropped from 3.6 to 2.6. His strikeout rate is still a tad low for a pitcher with two potential plus pitches and an adequate changeup, but it could continue to improve. However, 2013 will be his age-22 season in high-A, and he'll have to make those improvements soon. I'm willing to say his stock has improved because of the positive movement in his strikeout and walk rates, but it would still be fair to say that his numbers don't match the stuff. At 6'4 and 220 pounds, he looks the part of a rotation workhorse, and it's time to prove that he can become that workhorse.
14. Ryan Brett, 2B - Brett is another player that's pretty tough to tackle. While he doesn't have the impressive physical gifts that a lot of prospects have, he has the makeup and secondary skills to outplay some of those prospects. 2012 was another solid season for Brett, but his OPS did drop 100 points. That can largely be attributed to a 60 point drop in his ISO. While he hit a career high six home runs, he actually had one fewer extra base hit than 2011 with Princeton despite picking up 186 more plate appearances. While power will never be a part of the 5'9, 180 pound Brett's game, he's still going to have to prove he can make hard contact against tougher pitching. One other concerning note from his season was a slight decrease in his walk rate from 9.6% to 8.1%, and his strikeout rate jumped up from 8.9% to 15.6%. Both are still acceptable, but his on-base ability is key to ensuring he's not just a hitter with an empty batting average.
An aspect of Brett's game that remained well above average was his baserunning ability. Despite only playing 100 games, he was third in the Midwest League with 48 steals, and he was only caught eight times, good for a 85.7% success rate. The 50 game suspension that carries over for much of the first two months in 2013 will probably be the biggest takeaway from Brett's season, but I'm much more worried about the development time he'll be missing rather than a drop in performance that likely won't happen without stimulants. I still have to say he had a solid season, but...
13. Josh Sale, OF - Fans were right to not be optimistic about Sale when he started another season in extended spring training, but he got off to a stunning start with Bowling Green, posting a 1.250 OPS in 18 May games with six home runs. Unfortunately, his next three months did not come close to approaching that, and he finished with a .855 OPS in 74 games. While it seems like his entire season was propped up by one strong month, considering where he was at this point a year ago, his stock is clearly up. His .855 OPS increased by over 200 points compared to his 2011 season in Princeton.
Even though he batted just .264, his plate approach was still pretty solid with a 17.3 BB% and 21.5 K%. The strikeout rate is manageable for a power hitter, and he's showing the patience needed to wait for his pitch. Is he too patient though? His looking strikeout percentage was 8.1% which is unusually high. Still, it's good to see that he doesn't swing so much that he gets himself out. Once again, he won't be spending April with a full-season affiliate. Like Brett, much of his 50 game suspension remains to be served, and he should be back on the field sometime in May.
12. Derek Dietrich, INF - It was another solid season at the plate for Dietrich, albeit not as good as 2011. It seems likely that was due to an experienced ACC batter batting against pitching at or below the level he was used to facing. His walk rate was down to 5.4% across two levels this year, but he also cut down on his strikeouts from 23.8% to 20.4%. Still, he has a career OBP of .342, so while he's not tremendously patient, he's not an out machine either. While his slugging was down 45 points compared to last year, he led Rays minor league infielders that aren't first baseman in home runs with 14.
For the first time in his career, Dietrich began playing some second base, especially when he found himself at Montgomery with Hak-Ju Lee. He's really not a shortstop long term, and the ability to play around the infield will add a lot of value to his profile. After 2011, perhaps the biggest question about Dietrich was whether or not he was a player just beating up inferior competition. By continuing to hit well at Charlotte and then holding his own in Montgomery, I think he answered that question.
11. Alex Colome, RHP - Colome missed a large portion of 2012 with a lat injury, and he was somewhat effective in 91.2 innings between Montgomery and Durham. After hitting a rough patch in June, he finished the season strong, pitching eight consecutive starts allowing three or fewer runs, including a complete game effort against Gwinnett in July. In that stretch, he struck out 48 in 52 innings, but he also walked 24. Command and control problems have plagued him throughout his career, and 2012 was his second straight season with a BB/9 over 4.0.
Between his delivery and injury concerns along with his struggles throwing strikes, it's possible he ends up in the bullpen in the end. We saw the light apparently turn on for Chris Archer in 2012, so maybe Colome can turn it around too. With a lively mid 90's fastball and good curveball, he has the great stuff that many other recent graduates of the Rays' minor league system, and he provides the big club with some insurance if they decide to trade a starter this offseason or someone goes down with an injury. Colome is another player that's tough to classify. The potential injury problems are concerning, but his strikeout rate picking back up is promising. Looking at some peripherals, he was better than last season, and I'll choose to look at those.
Tuesday, Kevin will kick off the top 10. That includes Tim Beckham, so I'm hoping for a thread with hundreds of comments.